Sprinklers are being left on overnight across Northern Ireland despite the threat to the water supply, NI Water has said.
And wasting water now could mean a hosepipe ban later, as reservoir levels remain low even after weekend thunderstorms. Parts of the far west were hit by heavy rain yesterday, but that is expected to have little impact.
NI Water yesterday issued a direct appeal to the public to act now to protect supplies, following confirmation from the Met Office that this spring was the second driest since the beginning of the 20th century. The company said it has seen a significant rise in the amount of water used in the home since the start of lockdown.
This rise, coupled with the dry weather, has contributed to a natural drop in water levels in reservoirs.
Increased household use has not been offset by the closure of businesses, as many heavy users - such as the agri-food sector and factories - have been able to stay operational during this time.
NI Water chief executive Sara Venning said: "This recent dry spell, which has been breaking records, coupled with more people at home using more water, has resulted in a significant drop in our water levels.
"The recent rain we have experienced is not enough to bring the levels back up. We would need a period of reasonably wet weather before we would see a significant change in the levels of most of our reservoirs.
"There are a number of steps NI Water can take to alleviate the stress on reservoirs, including a hosepipe ban. However, the key to conserving water is public action now. How we all use water now will have a massive impact on our water levels during the summer months and whether a hosepipe ban will be required. For example, we know from the increase in our night usage some customers are leaving sprinklers and hoses on overnight; we are appealing to them to stop.
"A sprinkler left on overnight is enough to meet the daily water needs of 13 families. We are also asking people to think before they use their pressure washer. Could the task be put off until we are out of this dry period?"
Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan said people must heed calls to cut back on water use to prevent any interruption to supplies.
"With the good weather set to continue, it's absolutely crucial that supplies are protected, and people have enough water to maintain proper hygiene and regularly wash their hands," he said. "I'm urging the public to heed the calls from NI Water to cut back on their using water and be responsible, particularly when using outdoor taps."